05 December 2009

Crossbills above Cwmavaon

I have taken on some BTO atlas work this winter and, luckily enough, the tetrads allocated to me are only a short distance from my home. Having not visited these areas for many years (I am ashamed so say) it has been a pleasant suprise to find that, in the main, the local landscape still maintains some very nice habitats. The Crossbills were feeding in a mixed conifer wood to the west of the Bwlch Road, which runs between Cimla and Cwmavon. As is normally the case you could hear the birds chattering to each other in the tree tops well before they could be seen. I was able to get pretty close to the group which consisted of about 35 birds. They were feeding on pine cones and you could hear the pine cones drop periodically from the treetop, crashing into the branches on their way down. On a few occasions the Crossbills were seen to rip the cones from the Scott's Pine (Pinus sylvestris) and fly to neighbouring Japanese Larch (Larix kaempferi) to remove the seeds. This was great for me because the Larch have now dropped their needles allowing me to watch the Crossbills with a very clear view. After about 5 minutes the birds flew off together calling loudly.

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